With the arrogance of youth, I determined to do no less than to transform the world with Beauty. If I have succeeded in some small way, if only in one small corner of the world, amongst the men and women I love, then I shall count myself blessed, and blessed, and blessed, and the work goes on. -- William Morris

Thursday, August 17, 2006

On The House of the Inklings

An astute observer might notice that the name of the blog is The Well at the World's End while the url for the blog calls itself The House of the Inklings. The two do not seem to go hand in hand and one might wonder what is the cause of this discrepancy.

Wonder no longer!

The Well at the World's End is an important and influential novel by William Morris. It tells the tale of one Ralph of Upmeads, the third and youngest son of a king, who searches for the "Well at the World's End" which is supposed to grant those who drink of it immortality. Not only was William Morris a prolific author, but he was one of the founders and main participants of the English Arts and Crafts movement. William Morris was a medievalist influenced by John Ruskin. Most of his novels also contained the foundations of modern fantasy literature.

J. R. R. Tolkien and several of his friends not only enjoyed the works of William Morris, but they also sought to continue to produce works in a similar vein. Early on he created the TCBS, the Tea Club and Barrovian Society, with his childhood friends Christopher Wiseman, Robert Quilter Gilson and Geoffrey Bache Smith. wanted to become a cultural phenomenon following the work of William Morris, the Arts and Crafts Movement, and the Pre-Raphaelites. During World War I two of the major members of the TCBS were killed, leaving Tolkien and Wiseman alive and slowly drifting apart. Tolkien never forgot his earlier TCBS membership and named his son, Christopher Tolkien, after Christopher Wiseman.

The early involvement with the TCBS helped lead Tolkien to develop another long-term friendship and literary society known as the Inklings. Not only would members of the Inklings get together to discuss politics, philosophy, theology, literature, they would share with each other the essays, stories, plays and novels they were currently working on, providing insightful and helpful critique for each other's works. Famous members of the Inklings included C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, and Gervase Matthew. Tolkien's son Christopher and Lewis' brother Warnie were also important members of this society. Many of them, like Tolkien, enjoyed and were influenced by the works of William Morris.

Several aspects of Tolkien's works echo themes and ideas displayed in William Morris' The House of the Wolflings. Recognizing the aestheticism established by William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites, and continued by Tolkien with the Inklings, this url for The Well at the World's End honors both by calling itself The House of the Inklings. Like the House of the Wolflings, the contributors of this blog seek a common goal, like the Inklings, they seek to enrich the world through their literary, scholarly and aesthetic efforts.

Welcome to the House of the Inklings. May the good, the truth, and the beautiful enrich your life and encourage you to follow with us in the steps of the masters of old.



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